EXPULSION OF THE AFGHANS 327 his Intrepidity in braving the greatest Dangers, and cry'd him up as a Man capable of the boldest Enterprizes, and whose Boldness was generally successful."1 Few conquests have been more extraordinary than that of Mahmud. Previous conquerors of Iran, such as Chengiz and Tamerlane, had created a powerful force before attempting the task; but Mahmud captured Isfahan, and subsequently most of central and southern Persia, with twenty thousand Afghans and without much backing from Kandahar. The cowardice, effeminacy, and corruption of Persia as represented by the Safavi dynasty was the true cause of its downfall; for, as Malcolm says, the Persian Empire resembled " a vast fabric tottering to its fell." Of Mahmud himself, with the exception of the first few months of just rule after the capitulation of Isfahan, little good can be said. He was treacherous, narrow- minded, lacking in generosity and indeed in almost all the qualities which stamp a great conqueror; on the other hand, he was brave and energetic. Like Afghans in general, he was entirely deficient in administrative qualities and his mind was quite uncultivated. Finally,• the massacres for which he was responsible have consigned his memory to wholly justifiable execration. The Turkish Invasion of Georgia, A.D. 1722-1723.—After the death of Murad IV., the relations between Persia and Turkey were friendly for nearly a century. But when the Afghans invaded Iran, the Sunni power determined to take advantage of the impotence of the Shia state. An excellent opening was found in the province of Shirwan, whose Sunni population had been cruelly persecuted by the orders of the fanatical Husayn. The Sultan decided to appoint a governor to the province, and the officer charged with the task of conveying the Imperial^ orders had been despatched when information was received of the expedition of Peter the Great. After some negotia- tions between Turkey and Russia, conducted in Constanti- nople, the Turks decided to declare war against Persia, and three fulwas, or proclamations, were issued by the 1 ii. p. 159.